Last year, Off the Grid featured a look at some of the Village’s more specialized bookshops, including shops featuring cookbooks, comics, and mystery books. If you didn’t catch it, be sure to take a look. With so many independent bookstores to cover, this time around, we thought we would explore some of the neighborhood’s all-genre bookshops.
First up, used bookstores:
Alabaster Bookshop is a second hand shop along what used to be called Book Row, a series of antiquarian shops lining the seven block stretch between Union Square and Astor Place. For 15 years this tiny shop has held its own against the much larger Strand, featuring an eclectic stock that leaves nothing to be desired.
East Village Books, owned by Donald Davis, specializes in purchasing book estates. Located on St. Mark’s Place between First Avenue and Avenue A, this used bookstore was featured in the news this past fall when Davis apprehended a library book thief who was trying to sell his stolen goods.
Used bookstore newcomer Mast Books, located on Avenue A, has gotten props on social media sites like Racked and local blogs. Their website is a must see, although it is hard to tell if the design is ironic, or just straightforward. You be the judge.
Left Bank Books, in the West Village, specializes in first edition fiction. Owner Kim Herzinger, who bought the shop in 2005 when it was known as Bookleaves, survived a recent lease issue, moving a few doors away from its original location.
New & Used:
The Strand is the undisputed leader in independent Village bookstores. It is the largest, oldest, and perhaps best known. The store has been selling new, used, and rare books since 1927. Named after the famous publishing street in London, the Strand was one of 48 bookstores on Book Row. Today, the Strand is the sole survivor. Check out their long history on their website.
BookBook, the bookstore formerly known as Biography Bookshop, is a West Village gem. While it still is strong in the biography department, it offers a full selection, from fiction to cookbooks. Another indie that survived lease issues, it moved several storefronts up the street in 2009. Owners Chuck and Carolyn Epstein were feted with a Village Award in 2005.
St. Mark’s Bookshop, established in 1977 by Bob Contant and Terry McCoy, has been a big item in the news in recent months. The store owners asked for, and received, a reduction in their monthly rent, after an outpouring of support from the community. Now that the media attention has died down, it is more important than ever to support this gem of a bookstore. St. Mark’s Bookshop won a coveted Village Award in 2007.
Apparently named for the first of Gertrude Stein’s books, Three Lives & Company bookstore on West 10th Street and Waverly Place, has been in the neighborhood since 1968. Their excellent service is highly praised, and was recognized when the Greenwich Village Society awarded them an inaugural Village Award in 1991.
There are a wonderful amount of independent bookstores in our neighborhood. Hope you take some time to stop by one of them above, or all.